Arkansas Politics

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia) speaking in the press gallery.
Sarah Whites-Koditschek / Arkansas Public Media

This week, the 91st Arkansas General Assembly convened. KUAR’s Chris Hickey and Political Reporter and Morning Edition host Jacob Kauffman were there for much of it and took a dive into some of the first week’s big issues, including new rules on committee assignment process, party-switching former Democrats and attitudes surrounding proposed ethics reform legislation. 

Cindy Gillespie
C-SPAN

The Department of Human Services has virtually erased a backlog of Medicaid eligibility cases that had reached 140,000 people earlier this year, Director Cindy Gillespie said in a letter sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

As of Dec. 30, there were 692 overdue cases. Some individuals’ applications dated back to 2014.

“Based on a review of the remaining cases, all individuals have coverage and the only work that remains is simply clean-up of case files,” wrote Gillespie, who began working in her position in March.

House Speaker Jeremy Gillam (R-Judsonia).
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The speaker of the House would appoint committee members under a resolution passed Tuesday by the House Rules Committee, while legislators for the first time would be able to engage in campaign fundraising during fiscal sessions.

Scott Pace is the CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association.
Karen E. Segrave / Arkansas Business

With President-elect Trump and a Republican Congress expected to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Arkansas hospital officials are watching the situation with a great deal of uncertainty.

Almost 11 percent of Arkansans – about 325-thousand people – now have coverage through an exchange set up through the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

Reporter Mark Friedman with Arkansas Business talked with several hospital officials for a story in this week’s issue. Friedman also spoke with KUAR's Michael Hibblen about what he heard. You can hear the full interview above.

Huddle up by the fireplace and tune into this week's Week in Review podcast from the KUAR News team. This week we highlight some of what to look for in next week's legislative session, a bribery case in NWA with potentially far reaching implications, the opening of the U.S. Congress, Tom Cotton's take on Russian hacks, and a new state partnership with Facebook.

Take a listen and make sure to subscribe to the podcast this year to keep up to date with state news at large and all the happenings from the state legislature during the upcoming session.

Museum of American History, Cabot Public Schools / Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Stanley Russ, who served as an Arkansas state senator from Conway for a quarter century, died Thursday (Jan. 5) at the age of 86 after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood swearing in Elector Jonathan Barnett in the Old Supreme Court room at the state Capitol building on Monday.
Jacob Kuaffman / KUAR News

All six members of the Electoral College from Arkansas cast their votes for Donald J. Trump on Monday at the state Capitol. Electors met in the Old Supreme Court room and took oaths, cast ballots, and heard a few anti-Trump outbursts along the way.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says the state is taking over operation of seven youth lockup facilities after lawmakers rejected a disputed $160 million contract with an Indiana company.

Vincent Insalaco
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party says he won't seek another term, weeks after the general election in which Republicans expanded their majorities in the state Legislature.

Vince Insalaco said in a statement Thursday he believes it's time to move on to a new chapter in his life and wouldn't seek a third term chairing the state party. Insalaco has served as party chairman since 2013. Insalaco's term ends in 2019, but the state committee is expected to consider a proposal this weekend to allow the party to vote on a replacement in March.

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday outlined details of his $50.5 million tax cut plan for the upcoming 90th General Assembly that he says will focus on reducing the tax burden for the bulk of the state’s lowest wage earners making less than $21,000 a year.

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